My blog is weird

You guys see a very different side to me in comparison to what many people in my life see. My closest friends know that I am pretty…erm…odd, but my work colleagues and casual acquaintances see “professional Jane.”

Professional Jane likes pencil skirts and blazers. She eats rye crackers and discusses politics with men in suits. She analyses exam results and collates them in the form of pie charts. She attends meetings with colleagues and has an actual clipboard. Sometimes, she ties her hair up with a pencil. Yes, professional Jane is a straight-laced, no-nonsense nine to fiver.

Then there’s “crazy Jane”. Crazy Jane tries to teach her cat how to curtsy (she *almost* has it). She has an inexplicable fear of foam and waltzes with herself. She likes to not stalk her neighbours with binoculars and pretend she’s a French mime artist. She also loves wrestling and tequila (in that order). Sometimes, she likes to drive slowly beside random joggers she’s never met while playing Eye of the Tiger. She also likes to frequent karaoke bars where she can rap California Love in its entirety.

So yes, I’m weird. But I’m not always weird. I could come on here and be normal but then you guys wouldn’t be (hopefully) laughing at with me.

In case you guys are wondering, crazy Jane mostly lives in a cage while professional Jane is at work. I let her out in the evening, where she likes to dance to Abba and blog. Crazy Jane sure loves to blog. She also loves talking to all her fellow weirdos and sending them virtual cake. She is uncomfortable with referring to herself in the third person so she’s going to stop now and knit some tea cosies even though she doesn’t have a tea pot. Sinister.

Is Blogging Narcissistic?

During my college studies, I was part of a small class of close-knit friends. Every Tuesday, the girls in my group would go for tea and gossip about the boys in our class. Pretty standard. During one of our many bitching sessions (hey, ten points to me for honesty), we were talking about a guy in our class that was really irritating the majority of the girls. He didn’t really bother me as much, but I listened as the girls discussed why they found him so annoying. ‘His hair’, ‘his face’, ‘his shirts’, ‘his habit of giggling like a schoolgirl at something that isn’t remotely funny’ seemed to be his worst offences until one of the girls piped up with:

‘Oh, and he has a blog.’

There was a collective groan. All the girls were shaking their heads as if it had just been revealed that he enjoys kicking orphaned puppies in his spare time. I sat there silently, waiting for someone to explain why this was such a cardinal sin. I didn’t have a blog at the time, but I had frequently considered setting one up. I didn’t understand what the problem was. After a seemingly interminable silence, I asked ‘erm, what’s wrong with that?’

You know when you say something in a group that virtually no one agrees with and literally everyone of them starts talking at the same time, with the express intent of letting you know how dumb your opinion is? Yeah, that was one of those moments. This is basically a quick run-through of their opinions on blogging:

‘It’s so narcissistic. I mean, no one cares what you think.’

‘Someone who blogs clearly has too much time on their hands.’

‘What does someone actually expect to get out of it?’

‘It’s like something an angst-ridden teenager does.’

I hope you guys aren’t getting too mad, but don’t fret, because I’m about to drop some TRUTH. 

I sat and I listened as each girl basically explained why bloggers are the scourge of the planet, and must be destroyed, one post about cats at a time. Of course, I didn’t agree with them and yes, I defended blogging, even before I was set up a blog myself so you guys should basically see my like this now:

Disclaimer: I can’t fly and my cape is in the laundry….

Now that I have my own blog, I’ve been able to form more considered opinions about the whole situation. Yes, you could argue that, as a “blogger”, I’m completely biased. Of course I am. I love everything about the blogosphere, especially the free wine (which I will now drink as a show of solidarity… you’re welcome). I  don’t think that any of us have to defend our choice to blog, but I have often found myself explaining why I chose to start a blog. The girl from college has not been the only person that I have met to refer to blogging, and bloggers by extension, as narcissistic.

So it blogging narcissistic?

Maybe a little. 

I understand that ‘narcissism’ is a very strong word. I also think that society is becoming increasingly self-interested. The population of the world is growing all the time, and I think many people feel that they must compete to get ahead and get noticed. If we all were 100% honest with ourselves, and each other, we would admit that as bloggers, it’s nice to be noticed. It feels good when a post that we have worked on gains attention. So maybe that does make us a little selfish at times, but isn’t everyone a little selfish?

Anyway, if having a blog is even a small bit narcissistic, then what about having a Facebook account, or a Twitter account, or an Instagram account, or a Snapchat account or a Bitch, I’m Totally Amazing, Look at Me account?

So I totally made one of those up….guess which one?

I think that any form of social media is inherently a little narcissistic.

We all like to show off a little, let’s be honest. We all like a little bit of attention. Everyone like some praise from time to time. We choose to share aspects of our lives for a multitude of reasons. If there is something we’re good at, we like to feel validated. A writer will share their fiction, a poet will share their poetry, a photographer will share their best shots, and a joker might share a post about farting. Ahem.

I told my friends that day that I understood why this particular guy would have a blog. He was intelligent, opinionated and very knowledgeable on current affairs. A blog seemed like the perfect outlet for his thoughts. To the girls, however, it was incredibly narcissistic of him to acknowledge as much. How dare someone have confidence in their own abilities!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being confident in your own abilities or wanting to share aspects of your life, even if some people out there don’t necessarily agree with your choice to do it. What’s wrong with being good at something, and wanting to share that with others? I follow many bloggers who are excellent writers, poets, photographers, artists, teachers, and musicians. I honestly love and appreciate getting a peek into the lives of so many people around the world. I am often awed when scrolling through my reader, because I am reminded of the huge variety of talented people that blog. I also find that bloggers tend to be very welcoming and friendy; this certainly applies to the ones I have connected with. My life is truly enriched by them (you).

As for my own blog? Well, girl from college, in the unlikely event you’re reading this: I like my blog. It is a hot mess, there’s errors, I have no niche, but it’s mine. ME ME ME ME ME ME ME…sorry…

I make no apologies for blogging, and neither should anyone. So the next time someone asks you why you blog, you tell them the truth: because you’re amazing and the world deserves to know that. Too much? How about: because you’re good at something and you don’t mind other people knowing that. Yes, you are good. Great, even. Believe that and believe that it’s okay to believe that. Yes, I know what I said. Even if you feel like you’re not the best writer, the best photographer, the best anything, you’re expressing yourself, and that’s always a good thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

What are your experiences with people whom you have shared your blog with? Do you agree with me or want to punch my face? Sound off in the comments! 


The Perfect Response to Hatred

The following has been written by Antoine Leiris, a man whose wife died during the Paris attacks. I have taken the text from here. It is an incredibly moving and brave piece, and well worth a read.

On Friday night you stole away the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls.

If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in my wife’s body would have been a wound in His heart.

We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies… every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom.

Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that that has made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security. Lost. Same player, same game.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devasted with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.

We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies. In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.


The Cloak

You came upon me like a blanket suddenly

thrust upon a flame

to smother me

to choke me

to quench me

I ran with you clinging to me

Covering me

Shrouding my path in darkness

burning me out

A caricature of a ghost

I failed to shrug you from my shoulders

I had to learn to see again

From the shadows you cast

The colours, the light, the road ahead

I had to accept you.

I was once really selfish…

….see? Even the title of this post is self-centred! It’s funny, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a lot less self-centred (please discount the amount of times I’ve already written ‘I’…).

I was a selfish teenager. You might argue that many teenagers, by their very nature, are inherently more selfish than many adults. I’m not trying to insult teenagers, but I do think that with maturity comes a heightened sense of empathy. Of course there are very selfish adults, and very selfless teenagers but I feel that my own personal self-centredness was intrinsically linked with my youthfulness and lack of life experience.

Hint: I was the baby lion

Hint: I was the baby lion

I wasn’t necessarily a bad person. I suppose I just wanted to fit in with my peers. I was primarily motivated by self-interest- I wanted to be pretty, popular and all those meaningless things that society convinces you that you absolutely must be. In my search for almost complete vapidness, I hurt people. I hurt people and I didn’t really care.

Before you try to reach through your computer screen in the hope of throttling me, let me tell you, I was horribly insecure. I simply wanted to be liked. I had to attend every party, every sleepover, every binge drinking session with my friends. This meant missing family occasions, snapping at my weary and overwhelmed father and ignoring the needs of my siblings. I was the class clown in school, constantly cracking jokes and acting like I hadn’t a care in the world. It was fun, sure, and it made me popular among my classmates, but I never thought about my teachers. Now that I’m in their position, I see how utterly distracting a class clown is. I also see the effect they have on any students in the class who struggle with the onslaught of brand new information each and every day. Someone writing ‘boobs’ on a calculator definitely doesn’t help. *Sniggers*

I think worst of all, I was mean to my family. I put my friend’s needs ahead of theirs, and not necessarily because I was an amazing friend, but because I never wanted to miss out on a social occasion that might bolster my social status. Gah, I even feel like punching myself reading this. I lied to teachers, because when you’re trying to be Queen of Everything, who has time for homework? Even when I met my wonderful boyfriend, I didn’t really change in the beginning. Sure, he is probably the most selfless and kind person I’ve ever met, but it didn’t rub off on me for a while. I actually think, in the early days of our relationship, I became worse. My parents, like any good parent would, tried to get me to focus on my schoolwork and attempted to convince me that a serious and committed relationship probably shouldn’t be top of the agenda for a normal sixteen year old girl. From my perspective, THEY JUST DIDN’T UNDERSTAND OUR LOVE! I still can hear my bedroom door slam even as I write this, like it’s echoing through time. I expected a lot of people to drop everything to help facilitate our long-distance relationship, something I wouldn’t dream of doing now.


Probably what my parents were thinking…

I think that most teenagers tend to have two emotions: complete and utter apathy (which I like to call the ‘meh’ feeling) or unbridled passion verging on fanaticism. I loved various boy bands with an intensity that should only be reserved for cheesecake. I loved my boyfriend so much that it brought me to the brink of insanity. I was blinded by the intensity of my emotions; I couldn’t see reason or rationality and I certainly couldn’t see that I was being a selfish git. Not everyone loves what you love. Celebrities shouldn’t define your reason for living. A relationship shouldn’t mean that you all your love and respect can only be directed at that one person. The older I’ve gotten, the more compassionate I’ve become. Don’t get me wrong, I was always compassionate. But it was like that compassion was weighed against self-interest, and losing out. I find myself thinking far more about how my actions affect other people, and far less about the way I look or whether or not people like me. I try to be good, kind and generous. I don’t always succeed, but at least I care enough to try.

So why the hell this post, eh? What made me suddenly reflect on my personal growth? The short answer is Twitter. If you ever give a cursory glance at worldwide trends, they are more often than not dominated by teenagers. They usually revolve around bands like One Direction or 5 Seconds of Summer, or YouTube stars that I’m not even nearly hip enough to know anything about. What has bothered me in the past is the sheer obsession and fanaticism these teens display on a regular basis. And woe betide anyone that disagrees with them, or expresses a dislike of their chosen bands. I don’t care what they post on their own timelines, that’s their business. But sometimes, something creeps into my vision that genuinely concerns me. Recently, One Direction cancelled a concert in Belfast after one of the members became suddenly ill. A local television presenter, seemingly innocuously, pointed out that the remainder of the band could have at least appeared on stage to apologise to the thousands of people who had come from miles away to see them perform. Bad move. He got absolutely slaughtered by the throngs of 1D fans who came online to defend their honour. Of course they have the right to do this, and some eloquently defended the band. The majority, however, spewed such vitriolic bile at him that it made me genuinely angry. After the fifth ‘go kill yourself’ Tweet, I logged out.

I sat in anger for a while. The tweets were disgusting, of course, but what was worse was the support from other fans they garnered. None of them seemed to see how utterly disgraceful it is to tell anyone to kill themselves. I know this kind of online hysteria gets stirred up on a daily basis, and horrific insults get thrown around willy-nilly. What really struck me as sad, though, is how desensitised Twitter users have become to it. I couldn’t be a hypocrite, though. I was once a teenager, and I know what it’s like to feel such inexplicable love and loyalty to something or someone you barely even know all that well. It’s irrational in many ways, yes, but it feels so real, so authentic, so personal. If One Direction and Twitter had existed when I was a teen, who’s to say I wouldn’t have been first in the queue to call Eamon Holmes (the TV presenter) ‘irrelevant’ or ‘ignorant’. I know for sure, no matter what, I would have drawn the line at telling him to kill himself. That’s just plain nasty.

This person was trying to convince Channel 4 that not all 1D fans are crazy. Great job.

This person was trying to convince Channel 4 that not all 1D fans are crazy. Great job.

In many ways, I was just like many teenagers are today. I was a self-centred (and hey, I’m still not perfect), passionate, insecure and all that other Marilyn Monroe crap. But there’s one very important difference: there was no social media. My actions rarely had an effect that extended beyond my immediate family, friends, or classmates. I don’t think many teens today grasp the fact that what they choose to post can potentially reach an audience of millions and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Ask any adult if they would have liked Facebook or Twitter around when they were a teenager and you’ll find that the answer would be a resounding NO. It just takes one ill-conceived tweet to be screenshot and re-tweeted or one expletive-laden Facebook status to be shared for you to be thrust into a very unfriendly limelight. Remember: the internet is forever. Once something is out there, it cannot be taken back. It’s a virus that you can’t prevent from spreading. Just be careful.

I don’t want any teenagers who may be reading this to think that I am generalising you all, or deliberately insulting you. I know you are not all raging 1D fans. Some of the best blogs that I read are written by teenagers. I have great respect for teens, that’s why I chose a career dealing with teenagers. I have taught some of the most inspiring and compassionate minds and I know what wonderful things teenagers are capable of. I have also seen plenty of teenagers with their priorities all screwed up. I was one of those teens, once upon a time. It caused me to act pretty horrendously at times, even if the pain I caused was unintentional. I look back now and I regret it, but I’ve grown from it, so I guess I do have something important and useful to take from it all. I just thank the universe on a daily basis that social media did not exist back then!


It’s important for me to reflect on the way I acted during my formative years. I’m glad that I can now look back and realise that I hurt some people, and focus on making it up to them, as well as being a better person. That’s what’s most important to me.

What were you like as a teenager? What advice would you give the teenagers of today?

No WordPress Makes Jane a Dull Girl

Well hello there everyone! It feels like it’s been forever, even though it’s only been……*counts on fingers, takes out calculator, writes complex equations on bathroom wall*…….

good will hunting


….er, some time. It’s only been some time. You guys will not believe what happened. First my iPhone 6 broke and I rocked back and forth in the shower with ice-cream for a week for an hour. Then my laptop broke. Then I broke most definitely did not break Jack’s laptop, it just exploded…when I was on it, most definitely not overheating the motherboard…

I didn't do it....

I didn’t do it….


At the same time, the WordPress app in the Windows store stopped functioning properly so long story short, I HAD NO ACCESS TO MY WORDPRESS ACCOUNT. If anyone ever wants a head’s up on what hell is like *whispers solemnly*….

I’ve been there…..

Having no WordPress meant I was able to focus on my chores:




Today, Jack got a new laptop so I’m back to annoying you all *pokes you repeatedly* Eh? EH?

Sure, he has a PhD thesis to do but I have a blog where I talk about owls, farting and pie so I think we all know who needs this laptop more…



Anywho, now that I have access to the WordPress again, I can regale you all with tales of my fascinating life, like the day last week when I accidentally put two sugars in my tea instead of one…woah, that was a crazy, crazy day.

I also want to take the opportunity to say hello to my very bestest friend who finally knows about my blog after only TWO YEARS. I have to be nice to her though, because she could destroy me…she knows A LOT of things. So hello, dearest friend F!

I’m trying to catch up with all of your amazing blogs at the moment guys, and having a lot of fun doing it :) Have a great weekend all! BEAR HUGS xoxoxo

Awards post where I break the rules #23

Hello there my lovely virtual friends! Two of my wonderful WordPress amigos nominated me for awards. Erika Kind nominated me for the Sunshine Award. Here is her original post, which will show you what an inspiring and amazing person she is. I really can’t say enough Kind (see what I did there, eh? EH?) things about her.


I was also nominated for the Infinity Dreams Award by Spence’s Girl. Her post is here and I got insanely excited reading it because we have so much in common. So if you even kind of like me (and you do, right? *nervous laugh*) then you will love her!


Thank you both so much ladies, not just for the awards but for being really amazing women!

Anyway, as much as I love awards, the posts always take forever to write, and then I inevitably forget to nominate someone and my pizza goes cold. And that is just THE WORST. So instead of following the rules….I’m gonna rebel…again.

I have wanted to use that video for so long…..

Both Erika and Spence’s Girl left great questions to answer as part of their posts, so I will answer those and that’s doing half of it right at least….*clutches at straws*

So without further ado, here are the questions from Erika’s post:

1)    Which decade do you miss the most?

Like most ’80’s babies, I can’t say enough amazing things about the ’90s. Life was much simpler back then, before smartphones and social media. And let’s not even talk about the cartoons, the Nickelodeon shows, the amazing fashion, girl power and hair mascara. HAIR MASCARA. I’ll stop now, because I might genuinely cry. *Sobs through Kenan and Kel theme tune*

2)    To which poet do you feel most connected to?

This is a difficult question for me to answer since I taught students about poetry for so long, and I really connected with so many poets. I have loved Shakespeare’s sonnets, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney…I could go on all day. If I absolutely had to pick, I would choose Sylvia Plath. Her poetry is so raw, honest, intense and personal that it just evokes something so strong in me every time I read it. One of my favourite poems of hers is the poem Elm, which is actually so intense and emotional that it is difficult to read.

3)    Your spirit cartoon character/TV show artist?


Garfield. He hates Mondays and he loves lasagne. If he wasn’t a cat….I’d marry him.

4)    Your favourite indulgence when in stress?

Chocolate, specifically Kinder Buenos or Galaxies. Or a fancy coffee…or both.

5)    How has your blog helped you the most?

I don’t even know where to start. I was going through a pretty difficult part of my life and I felt kind of….lost. I started my blog to serve as a place that I could come and just be silly and forget about the stresses of the real world. I never, ever thought that anyone would actually read anything I wrote, not to mind actually be so kind to me. I have met so many people here who have helped me, sometimes without even realising it. So to answer this question, my blog has helped me by connecting me with such a wonderful, supportive community. I never feel lonely.

And now…….*drumroll*…….Spence’s Girl’s questions:

1.What is your favorite comfort food?

I make a lovely shepherd’s pie. It is so lovely on a cold evening.

2.Do you have siblings?

Yep! I have an older sister and an older brother. They are amazing.

3.Live to eat or eat to live?

Live to eat, totally…I adore food. I once fell asleep on a pizza. I may have been slightly intoxicated.


4. Swim in a lake, ocean or a pool?

I’m actually not a great swimmer. I really need my feet to be able to touch the bottom. I’d feel safest in a pool…in an inflatable ring.

5. Coffee or tea?

I actually adore both. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening.

6. What is your favorite time of day to blog?

Usually the evening, when I’m not distracted….by…all the….shiny…..things…..

7. Name something from your “bucket list”

This is going to sound crazy…but I would really (times a million) LOVE to find a meteorite. I love astronomy and space, so finding something that is billions of years old and has fallen from space would be so amazing. I’m actually buying one next week. But finding my own one will always be the dream.


8.What scares you?

I struggle to even type this without shuddering….*whispers* spiders. I really am terrified of them. I’m also terrified of tidal waves (random, I know). That scene in Interstellar caused me to actually struggle to breathe.

Just a whole bag of nope

Just a whole bag of nope

9.Cats or dogs?

Both! I have two dogs, Molly and Oscar and a cat called Kit. I also have guinea pigs…so a zoo, basically, I have a zoo.

10. Best childhood memory?

I have a few. They are really simple, but I think its their simplicity that has made them so appealing. I loved playing outdoors in the summer nights with my friends. We lived in a beautiful yet tiny village in the south of Ireland. I also loved visiting my grandparents, which I wrote about here.

11. What or who makes you laugh?

Everything. Literally….everything. I am one of those people who laughs all the time. I just can’t help it. I actually spent a long time today conversing with an African Grey Parrot called George, who was HILARIOUS. He wolf-whistled at me, which meant I was totally working my sensible fleece jumper.

So there you go guys. I’m sure you learned absolutely nothing but…we all survived, which is the main thing.

What Does Your Accent Say About You?

I was told once that I have a “posh” accent (I’m doing exaggerated finger air quotes). This was said to me by a colleague in a manner that I can only describe as slightly derisive. Before you picture me like this….

Air hair lair!

Air hair lair!

…rest assured, I am most decidedly not posh-I just licked marinara sauce off a paper plate soooo….My colleague’s comments were most likely due to the fact that we have quite different accents.

You see, I’m not local to the area that I live in. I currently live in the exact town that the actor Chris O’ Dowd hails from, whereas I’m originally from the area Paddy O’ Brien*, legendary sheep-shearing champion, is from. What do you mean you’ve never heard of him? *grumbles incoherently*
The south. I’m from the south.

For an island as small as Ireland, there is a fairly large diversity of accents. Unfortunately for us, these accents are grossly misrepresented in international cinema. I’m looking at you, Tom “ta bay shure, ta bay shure” Cruise. What many people outside of Ireland don’t know is that there are many different Irish accents, not just one generic “top o’ the mornin'” Oirish accent.


To understand this better, think of the actor Chris O’ Dowd’s accent. Now think of Colin Farrell’s. They’re both Irish yet have quite different accents. If you have ever seen the actor Cillian Murphy (Inception, Batman Begins) speaking with his real accent (he does so in the Irish film The Wind That Shakes The Barley) you will notice that his accent also differs from both O’ Dowd’s and Farrell’s.

O’ Dowd hails from the west of Ireland; a county called Roscommon to be precise (and my current location for all you stalkers out there). Farrell is from Dublin in the east and Murphy is from Cork, down south and not far from where I am originally from. I suppose the most famous celebrity closest to where I’m from is lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O’ Riordan. Although there are some similarities in our accents, her’s is much
thicker than mine. Michael Fassbender also has a similar accent to mine, except his is more refined whereas I sound like I might possibly know how to herd cattle (side-note: I do).

I had never really thought about my accent too much until my colleague pointed it out to me that day. My accent would not be hugely different from the local accent, but when I speak for long enough, it’s evident that I’m not local.
I suppose in some ways, it’s what marks me as “different.” When my colleague referred to my accent as “posh”, I had to laugh. That could not be further from the truth. When I get excited or angry, I tend to get very high-pitched and my accent becomes virtually unrecognisable. Jack gets a great kick out of this (he’s from Dublin and our accents differ quite substantially). My students used to get a great kick out of how I pronounce the word “forty.” While the locals here (and most of you, I would bet) pronounce it ‘four-ty’, I really enunciate the ‘r’, so it sounds kind of like ‘faaarrrr-ty’ . *allows you time to snigger*

It did lead me to realise that we really do form opinions on people based on their accents. For example, in Ireland, there is a widely pilloried accent called the “D4” accent which comes from an area of Dublin called Dublin 4. This is a wealthy and affluent area where the accent is notably different from other Dublin accents. It is definitely heavily influenced from both English and American accents and I suppose you could consider it the Irish equivalent to the Californian “Valley Girl” accent. It is hugely unpopular with many people outside of Dublin 4, who view it as pretentious and false.
I actually had a dear friend with this accent years ago. She was kind, caring and fun. Whenever she came to visit me though, it was clear that everyone we met viewed her with scorn and disdain. Actually, people hated her. She later got a job in Cork and told me that her boss frequently told her that her accent was awful and that he hated hearing her speak. He would also pass comments like “oh, did Daddy buy that for you?” even though she was as far from a spoiled princess as you could imagine. Despite the fact that she was one of the sweetest people I have ever know, many people had a prejudged stereotype of her as some shallow and selfish person and refused to get to know her on a personal level. That is utterly ridiculous to me, but I have known several people who have felt prejudged, based on their accent.We are all guilty of making false assumptions about someone based on their accent.

To be fair, we are all possibly a little guilty of making assumptions about a person based on the way they speak. Someone with a ‘posh’ accent may be judged as cold or aloof. Someone with a more ‘common’ accent may be judged as unsophisticated or ignorant. Of course these are ridiculous stereotypes, but they do exist.

Aw haw haw...sorry

Aw haw haw…sorry…and now I’m stuck mimicking a French accent..YUR MUZZAHR WUZ A ‘AMSTAR AND YUR FAHZER SMELLED OF ELDERBERRRIIIEEEES

Why don’t you come and tell me about your accent because when I read your comments, I usually put on a robot voice and it’s getting very old very fast. I’ll just sit here saying ‘potato’ over and over.


Psst! C’mere! If you happen to be on Twitter, you can follow me here. I once made Wil Wheaton laugh, which will be my claim to fame for a hundred years. I will totally follow you back too, because I’m so nice.

*… he probably exists, anyway.

An Engagement Ring Doesn’t Mean Someone Owns Me

As some of you may know, I recently became engaged. While I’m very excited by the prospect of marrying the man my mother bribed I love, I must say that my relationship hasn’t really changed in any significant way. My boyfriend and I met when I was fifteen, and started a relationship soon after my sixteenth birthday. We have lived together for ten years. We have been talking about marriage and babies and station wagons for a long time now. We even have a little pet family together. So no, engagement didn’t change a whole lot. It just made our decision to marry ‘official’, I suppose. You might wonder what the biggest difference between pre-engagement and post-engagement me is; well, the answer is simple: A ring.

Wait...that's an impractical metal glove...which also would have been okay

Wait…that’s an impractical metal glove…which also would have been okay

For oft when on my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood, I often think about what my engagement ring actually means. (Yes, half of that sentence plagiarises Wordsworth, guess which half?) When we got engaged, there was no real fanfare. For a few months beforehand, we had discussed what we both wanted in a wedding ceremony, even discussing venues. When I told my sister this, she got excited. She stated that this meant we were engaged, I wasn’t so sure. Yes, we had talked marriage, and even set a preliminary date but my partner hadn’t actually proposed. And there was no ring. When I pointed this out to my sister, she laughed.

‘Since when do you care about stuff like that?’ she asked me, bemused. She was right to be confused. I have never been a big fan of grand romantic gestures nor have I ever been a fan of (ladies, please forgive me for this) jewellery. I never wear any, despite making a valiant effort during my teen years in order to fit in with my decidedly stylish peers. I shun all types of bejewelled décor, especially rings. I have always found them uncomfortable and constrictive.

I decided to talk to my partner about it all. Not wanting to complicate things any more than they already were, I asked him straight: ‘are we getting married?’

‘Yes, of course,’ was his answer.

‘Then, are we engaged?’  I felt like a fifteen year old girl asking her date if they were going steady. My boyfriend’s response surprised me. He shook his head.

‘Well, no, not yet because I haven’t gotten you a ring. So it’s probably going to take a while because I’m saving up.’

‘Saving up?’ I was confused. My boyfriend is well aware of my ambiguous feelings towards rings. ‘Why do you need to save up?’

‘Well, everyone knows you have to buy a girl a diamond and that you have to spend three months wages on it.’ I have known Jack a long time, and I’ll bet that this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard him say.  I proceeded to launch into a big speech about how I didn’t care if I had to wear an onion ring, that I’m not that kind of girl and that I was disappointed that he would think that I was. I told him that I wasn’t even sure I wanted a ring at all. He remained calm, as usual, and responded:

‘I don’t want you to have any regrets. It’s so easy to say that you don’t want a ring because you think that it’s the “right” thing to say, but it’s okay to want a ring. It doesn’t make you materialistic.’ Then he asked me to think about it.

And I did.  I realised that Jack is a proud person. The macho part of him wanted to give me an expensive ring because he wanted to feel worthy. He erroneously assumed that I would want some beautiful bling to show off. And I understood that, even if I didn’t agree with it. Begrudgingly, I realised that deep down, I probably did want a ring, as much as I hated to admit it at first. I don’t call myself a feminist. I call myself an egalitarian. Our relationship has always reflected this. I have been told by friends and family that I have a “role” to fulfil as a woman. I have seen the shock on relatives’ faces when I tell them that I do not do my boyfriend’s laundry, nor do I do all the cooking. I have never believed that, as a woman, I have a pre-defined role in our relationship. Likewise, I don’t believe that Jack does. We are equal partners. So how could the strong, independent side of me be reconciled with the side of me that wanted to wear an engagement ring, essentially branding me as someone else’s betrothed? I remembered the words in a great poem, Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, by Adrienne Rich:

The Massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band/sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie/Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

Is that what engagement and wedding rings symbolise? Confinement? Submission? I loathed that thought.

I thought about the history of the engagement ring, and its traditional significance. I wanted to know why on earth my usually level-headed boyfriend would think I desire an expensive diamond. My initial research didn’t do much to assuage my doubts. Going back as far as Roman times (and possibly even earlier), the ring was seen as signifying the binding legal agreement of the male’s ownership of the woman. Hundreds of years later, the engagement ring also becomes something akin to insurance for an aristocratic bride to be. If an engagement broke, the female would be missing out on assured financial security for life, so she was allowed to keep the valuable piece of jewellery. Of course, I know that none of this is applicable or even relevant to my life. Our engagement would not be a business deal. There would be no dowry or contracts drawn up. If I was to wear a ring, it would have to symbolise something far more romantic than insurance or ownership. My dad can keep his livestock.


So what else could an engagement ring symbolise? Yes, it demonstrates one’s intention to marry. But is there a deeper meaning that goes beyond practicality? There were some romantic accounts on the engagement ring’s history, such as why it is worn on the left ring finger (due to the supposed ancient belief that a vein in the left finger, the so-called vena amoris, connected directly to the heart) although it was hard to distinguish which of these accounts were actually factual.  Of course the engagement ring wasn’t always made from a valuable metal and did have symbolic meaning throughout antiquity and beyond.  So that helps.

I was left wondering why I really wanted to wear one, especially since I have never worn a ring in my entire life. You might think I was over-thinking this, and you’d be right. I was. But an engagement ring is an important purchase. I needed to be sure about it. I wanted to be able to look at it without seeing it as something that compromised my independence.

And then something bizarre happened. I worked on a staff of predominantly female teachers. All of a sudden, five of them got engaged. For weeks, there was constant squealing and fawning in the staff room and I have to admit, it was contagious. My colleagues’ rings were beautiful. I started to imagine what it would be like to wear something so attractive. Then, one evening, one of my newly engaged colleagues had stayed behind to correct homework with me. Admiring her ring for the hundredth time, I asked her what the ring meant to her. It was certainly unusual, but stunning.  I know it’s a personal question, but I really wanted to know. She told me that the ring hadn’t been very expensive, but that her fiancé had seen it a long time ago, in an antique store and had always imagined giving it to someone as an engagement ring one day. She said that he kept it through all the difficult times in his life, firmly believing that someday, all would be okay, as long as the right person was wearing that ring. To her, it symbolised their search for each other. She felt that she had been moving towards him, and that ring, all her life. She finished by saying ‘it was mine before I even knew him.’ Granted, to some of you, that’s cheese on toast with a side of jazz hands, but she told it with such sincerity and conviction, that I couldn’t help but be touched. I realised that I had been judgemental.

I suddenly saw engagement rings in a whole different light. They didn’t have to be archaic symbols of dominance or ownership. And even if some girls derive a feeling of security from that, who am I to judge?

 I realised that every ring has a different story, a different meaning, for every wearer. It is up to you to choose that meaning.

I know that this might seem obvious to everyone, but I had never really put much thought into engagement rings before and had always assumed that they were merely superficial. I bounced in the door that evening to my boyfriend, proclaiming that I was the luckiest person in the world to have someone who put up with my constant analysing and over-thinking, and that I would be grateful for whatever ring he chose. But we had to be sensible. We aren’t financially secure. For me, it would have been madness to spend thousands on a ring when I would be just as happy with one that didn’t make my finger go green. Jack took a little convincing. He told me he had read forums where women had said things like ‘I would dump a guy if he gave me less than a carat’ or ‘I would be embarrassed to wear a cheap ring.’ We both sat down, as he showed me questions on wedding forums from guys that were along the lines of ‘I only have $3000 to spend, is that enough?’ I have never seen Jack be influenced by societal pressure (the guy dances, in public, to The Spice Girls) but he seemed particularly stressed out.

‘Diamonds are expensive,’ he sighed, as I tried to assure him that I didn’t want a diamond. We argued back and forth. He told me that ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, I told him that he’d obviously never tried chocolate. He pointed out that in many episodes of my guilty pleasure, trash TV show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta; I had witnessed the women brag about their expensive diamond rings. Yes Jack, I base all my life expectations on contrived and structured reality TV *rolls eyes forever*

I explained that through my extensive (one hour) research (and that was in between episodes of The Big Bang Theory) that the first recorded person to give a diamond engagement ring to his betrothed was Archduke Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy, but that the modern usage of the diamond as the most popular engagement stone seems to stem from a very shrewd DeBeers’ marketing campaign in the first half of the twentieth century, when they promoted the slogan ‘diamonds are forever.’ Diamonds are nice, but I didn’t want a diamond engagement ring. Given our financial status, it made no sense to spend money on something I don’t feel passionate about. If you genuinely love diamonds, and jewellery, that’s another matter altogether. He worried about the constant judgement I would face from people when they asked to see my ring. I told him that the most important thing was that the ring meant something personal to us, and that I really don’t mind if other people don’t like it. I don’t even mean that in a defensive way, everyone has different opinions and I respect that. Maybe just don’t say it out loud though.


We chose the ring together. If I’m being completely honest (and I always am with you guys), I feel like the whole furore over the ring made the actual engagement slightly anti-climactic. We over-thought it: me, because I worried about what a ring ultimately symbolised and Jack because he thought that it had to be diamond and platinum and unicorn ivory horn. We did face a lot of questions from relatives about the ring, especially when they realised that it wasn’t going to be diamond. When we finally picked one out, it was weeks later. I sometimes wonder if I should have just kept my mouth shut and went along with Jack, but I know that we’d probably be living in a tenement and sharing a bathroom with a family of ten (at least, that’s what’s happening in my imagination). I’m grateful to have someone who wants the best for me, and so I wanted to alleviate that pressure that society had put on him, as a man, to provide something that was, at that time, unobtainable. I wasn’t making a sacrifice, or pretending that I didn’t want an expensive diamond for his benefit. I genuinely didn’t. In the end, we let the ring overshadow the most important fact of all: that someday, soon, we will be man and wife and he has to put up with me singing in the car for all eternity.

So why have I written this? Well, I suppose I thought of all the Jacks out there who are panicking and conducting internet research on the possibility of selling their eyeballs to afford a pricy ring and I felt bad for them. Is it true that, to paraphrase the wise (rolling eyes) Kim Zolciak, the ring doesn’t mean a thing? Not entirely. It should mean something, otherwise why wear it? Rings have long been a symbol of eternal love, fidelity, trust, strength…but the truth is, they can symbolise whatever you want them to. Does a sparkly diamond have to be the only symbol significant enough to demonstrate your eternal bond to one another? Why don’t you ask Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband, Kris Humphries? (Yep, I went there.) He bought Kim a diamond ring that set him back TWO MILLION DOLLARS. And their marriage? It lasted 72 days. I’ve had pen pals that I’ve committed to for longer than that. You shouldn’t have to spend thousands on a ring to prove to someone that you love them, and they shouldn’t expect you to. I think it’s important that I add: if you both want to spend thousands on a diamond and an expensive ring means something to both of you, then I’m not going to judge; that’s your business. I know plenty of women whose rings are worth more than my car (though that’s not saying much) and I don’t begrudge them. If it makes them happy, then where’s the harm? It goes both ways, too. I would hate for anyone to think that my decision to wear a ring somehow makes me less of an independent and progressive woman. For me, it symbolises many things. Submission is not one of those things.

So what about my ring? I love it. I love it because Jack gave it to me. I love it because it reminds me that I’m marrying him. I love it because I will wear it for the rest of my life. And most of all, I love it because it reminds me that even when we didn’t have much; we never for a second doubted our commitment to each other.